New budget strategy adopted this year expands educational programs and covers facility updates while maintaining fiscal responsibility
Bound Brook, N.J. — The Bound Brook School District’s 2023-2024 tentative budget, presented at the March 15 Board of Education meeting, expands educational programs and student services that help students thrive, and the district stand out in New Jersey.
The $49.6 million operating budget for next school year expands curriculum programs and staffing to improve student performance, especially in the areas of social-emotional learning, technology, gifted and talented programs, and English as a Second Language (ESL).
The budget also keeps in mind the needs of taxpayers by decreasing the 2023-24 local school tax for residents in Bound Brook by $264 for the owner of a home assessed at the Bound Brook average of $390,700.
“At the heart of our school is our students; our goal with this budget is to provide programming and an environment that best supports opportunities for student success,” said Superintendent Alvin L. Freeman, Ed.D. “This budgeting process started on my first day after joining the district, with getting to know the schools, everyone in them and what they need to be successful. I thank the Board of Education for their direction and ideas, questions, knowledge and support.”
The proposed budget is broad in scope, spreads resources throughout the district and supports the goals set by the Board of Education and district, while continuing the district’s commitment to fiscal responsibility and offering opportunities for success to every student. Highlights include:
- Expanding curriculum programs and staffing to broadly improve student performance, including the following areas: social-emotional learning, technology, a redefined gifted and talented program, and resources for ESL students
- Addressing capital projects to support the health and safety of staff and students such as bathroom updates, new boilers and roofs at selected schools, and replacing the gym floor, track and perimeter fencing at the high school
- Allocating over 50% of the budget to go directly into classrooms
- Increasing professional development opportunities and professional memberships for staff members
- Negotiating a health insurance premium rate freeze resulting in a 0% increase in healthcare costs for the district and staff members (last year’s increase was 13.5%)
This budget amount comes in under the 2% budget cap allowed by the state and is possible because of the district’s careful planning and proactive efforts to secure grant funding, generate revenue, share services and maximize the use of state aid.
For the first time, this budget follows the Zero-Based Budgeting model, which empowers district teachers, principals, supervisors and directors to design the budget, with guidance from the administration team, centered around student needs. This is a strategy used to eliminate unnecessary costs, maintain control over spending and focus on implementation of initiatives from the strategic plan. This budgeting model is different from traditional budgeting models because it is decision- and goal-oriented, offers greater clarity with a more thought-provoking approach, and requires justification for expenses starting from zero rather than based upon the previous year’s budget.
“I would like to extend my sincere thanks to Dr. Freeman for his vision of education reform and his commitment to provide each and every student with every opportunity to succeed in an ever increasingly competitive environment,” said Business Administrator/Board Secretary Michael C. Gorski, CPA.
“The district can offer a tax decrease despite inflationary pressures because of its proactive approach to fiscal responsibility. Bound Brook School District has been able to generate revenue from creating shared service agreements with the municipality, transportation jointures, purchasing consortiums and special services,” Gorski stated. “In addition, state aid increased by over 20% this year, which is being directed toward capital improvement projects. Using the aid toward these projects allows the district to purchase the items needed for these projects outright, which is projected to save approximately $300,000 in financing costs over the five-year lease period.”
The district invites residents to learn more about the proposal by reading the slides and handouts presented or watching the recording of the Board meeting from March 15.
The tentative budget has been submitted to the state for review. The Board will consider the formal adoption of the budget at the next meeting on Wednesday, April 26 at 6:30 p.m. in the Bound Brook High School theater.